Thursday, September 25, 2014

California's Fifteen-Hour Experiential Requirement

As I mentioned last fall, California has enacted a fifteen-hour experiential requirement for law school graduates before they can become members of the California Bar.  The Bar is now in the process of developing regulations on the implementation of this requirement.  You can find their main page here, and the latest version of the Task Force memorandum and recommendation is here.  The Task Force held a hearing on September 16th.

From the memorandum: "Pre-admission Competency Training:

There will be two routes for fulfillment of this pre-admission competency training requirement: (a) at any time in law school, a candidate for admission must have taken at least fifteen units of practice-based, experiential course work that is designed to develop law practice competencies, and (b) in lieu of some or all of the fifteen units of practice-based, experiential course work, a candidate for admission may opt to participate in a Bar-approved externship, clerkship or apprenticeship at any time during or following completion of law school."

I believe that California's new requirements will have a great impact on legal education in this country.  While they will affect California law schools the most, every law school will be affected.  All ABA accredited law schools consider themselves national law schools.  They want to attract students from all fifty states, and they want their students to practice in all fifty states.  Since California is the largest state in population, all law schools must be prepared to meet California's requirements.  I also believe that once law schools create experiential classes to meet the California's requirements, students who do not plan to practice in California will also want to take the classes.  The result will be an explosion of experiential classes in American law schools.  Law schools need to prepare now.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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